Who is Yani? is not only the title of her mixtape, it’s also the question on everyone’s lips. Who is this poet, rapper, lyricist, theologian, and leader spreading words of positivity, love, and peace from the Bay of California to the streets of India? I’m sure that sounds like a tall order for one person, and it is, but Iyana Davis isn’t just a person. She is magic. William Shakespeare said “She be small, but she is fierce,” and fierce Davis is! At just 5 feet (though I’m sure her hair gives her a few more inches), beautiful hazel eyes, and a commitment to changing the world, Davis is absolutely unstoppable. So, who is Yani? You’re about to find out!
Tell us about your childhood. Where did you grow up and what was life like?
Growing up, I was the child of a pastor and a teacher. It was intense because I felt like there were always eyes on me to do well and to be the perfect little angel. It was hard because my brothers had already left for college and I came ten years after them. My childhood was filled with a lot of love and laughs as I was surrounded by a community and village that cared for me, nurtured me and made sure I was well taken care of. Come to think of it, they still do all of that.
I’m sure you’ve experienced adversity as a child and perhaps even as an adult. How’d you manage?
I manage and continue to manage adversity by thinking about the people that need peace, healing and love in the world. Sometimes adversity comes to prepare us for greater battles in the future. That is the mentality I take into moments that may be uncomfortable or feel like the world is against me.
Tell us about the Peace People’s Movement. How did it come about?
The Peace People’s Movement was founded in 2012 as way for community (common-unity) to be established in neighborhoods around the world. With a focus on peace and community building, we as #peacepeople, strive to impact the world in a positive light, not just through this work but through our everyday lives. We recognize the important role that storytelling plays in healing our communities and want to carve out spaces for inter-generational dialogue, cross cultural exchange, and travel opportunities for students and teachers alike. We are looking for #peacepeople: change agents and diligent workers in the community who want to transform their own lives and the lives of the children coming up!
The Peace People’s Movement wants to bring peace, joy, understanding, love, prosperity and power to every inch of the United States and abroad. Won’t you join this dynamic team in transforming how the world comes together in the name of #peace and #unity? The Peace People’s Movement uses our collective and individual gifts of music, mentorship, workshop presentations and event planning to bring peace, love and light to communities all around our global village. Growth and transformation can be hard, we hope to serve as a network of leaders and innovators shaping and shifting the face of education, the arts, and community building!
You just announced plans to embark on a new journey that combines music, arts, community building, community service, and more! Can you give us a hint about what we can expect? What’s your vision for the Peace People’s Movement?
Folks can expect a tour by my band. We recently went under a name change which embodies who and what we are now. Folks can expect an album from the band this summer as well. Folks can expect a brand new book from me and people can expect community service/building events to be popping up all around the country! We have been working hard as a team to make all of this manifest.
You have a lot of amazing things going on. What motives you to be such a boss at everything you do? How do you find the time to do what you love, do it well, and still take care of yourself?
My love for God and my love for people motives me. My dad always says “Lead the People with Love” and I make every attempt to do this everyday I wake up. I find time to do what I love, do it well and take care of myself by making “self-care” my number one priority. I am gentle with myself and make a choice to love me fully. I take time to meditate and to do yoga. I am constantly checking in with myself to make sure I am okay and that tends to be how I deal with others; from my love to my team. Doing what I love comes out of a necessity to continue loving myself fully, and that will be a life long practice of mine.
How can we join the Movement?
Folks can join the movement by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get them on the monthly newsletter that gives all the information about the movement!
What advice would give Kermit Says… readers who dream of a similar path?
Being a minister, hip hop artist, poet, teaching artist, peace activist is not easy, but for anyone who would like to follow a similar path, I would tell them to:
- Get some mentors. You never have to go at your journey and goals alone. This saves time energy, and keeps you from making a lot of mistakes.
- Do the work on your own for a while and then get a team. Map out what your goals and focus will be, whether it is music, or a business, or even starting a band. The folks that you need to assist will come. Get started first!
- Get business cards and a website running! People love to go to a site and get a feel for who you are.
- Write it down! Always write down your vision and your successes. This is a great way to remain motivated.
- Be gentle with yourself and The Universe. Some things take time and no overnight success was really an overnight success. Go for it and keep going for it!